Tumwater High School came into the 30th annual Capitol City Invitational looking for a volleyball team that would challenge them in all facets of the game Saturday.
They found that team in Burlington-Edison.
The Thunderbirds and Tigers hammered each other in the final match of the tournament, battling for every point. The T-Birds fell just short on the losing end of both sets, 25-23, 25-23.
“Burlington-Edison played phenomenal defense,” Thunderbirds coach Tana Otton said. “They would not let the ball die, and they just tipped the ball on us, and we could not pick it up.”
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Before the Thunderbirds and Tigers did battle in the final match of the day, however, each had to go through tough opponents in the semifinals.
In the first semifinal, the Thunderbirds took on tournament host Olympia.
Both teams were evenly matched, and it showed on the court with back-and-forth scoring. But the Thunderbirds never let panic set in.
“We’ve seen (Olympia) this year already a few times,” Otton said. “We knew what to expect about what type of hitters they had. We knew what adjustments to make.”
The Thunderbirds took the first set, 25-23, in a tight one over the Bears. The second set was a different story, as Tumwater rode a hot start to a 25-17 win.
The Tigers had a similar route to the finals, meeting the Selah Vikings in the other semifinal.
Although not as close as the T-Birds-Bears matchup, the Tigers rallied behind the play of Alana Handy to win their semifinal handily, 25-12, 25-18.
This tournament also holds special meaning outside of victory on the court. The Capitol City Invitational represents a gathering of the community to help raise money to combat cancer.
“Because there are so many people close to us in the Olympia High School volleyball family and the Olympia High School community that are impacted by other types of cancer, we wanted to broaden the scope of recognition and need to fight all types of cancer,” Olympia coach Laurie Creighton said.
The tournament was started early on in Creighton’s coaching career and continues to be something the Olympia community rallies around.
The proceeds from the fund-raising go to the American Cancer Society.